We are extending our presence and our reach into the virtual. This began with the telephone (although I can also argue that it started with language) at a personal level, then radio and especially television at the social level. In the next several years, we will see this unify. Stealing (and likely mangling) Brian S. Hall’s mantra statement “we want what we want, when we want it, where we want it”.
Let’s decompose telephone, television, and computers. Telephone is the ability to initiate and receive communication (usually over distance with one or a small number of individuals), potentially time-shifted via voicemail, and management of your contacts’ information. By this definition, mail, email, and videoconferencing are variants: communication beyond our voice and body language. Television is a hearing and seeing presence (with our presence silent & invisible, except statistically – think Nielson ratings), sometimes live but more often time-shifted and art-shifted (trying to capture the editing artifice/edifice in a movie or tv show versus a stage performance). I say television, but I mean video. I argue that video games are not included since their interactivity is unlike TV.
Computing is a lot. Computing starts as an instruction follower used as a task automator, effort amplifier, and data manipulator; essentially the work activities. Then it became a text communication vehicle (email, news lists), a graphic canvas, personal gaming device, then content consumption (web surfing, music sharing, YouTube) with incredible fidelity.
The fidelity of digital communication makes distance irrelevant except for latency.
What am I trying to get to, and taking a long time in transit?
There are things we want to see. We will see them on the device that makes the most sense. If we are out and about, our phone. If we are inside, on a display in our hands or on the wall depending on how we feel. Think of Star Trek with a display everywhere. But nothing will be wired (except for power, for awhile at least). Everything will come wirelessly, via AirPlay locally and LTE-Advanced or WiFi remotely. Cable & Broadcast are dead, unless they start to offer something different than they have until now. Networks are likely dead, unless they can show differentiation and value-add to the content produced by others. Content providers will flourish with immediate contact with the consumers (rather than the network buyers, who contact the advertisers). Think podcast. No more walking the channels, now search/links to the shows themselves, with genius to suggest new programming.
For interactivity, we’ll use what we want, perhaps dedicated controllers, but definitely phone and iPad, perhaps on-wall touch screen. Definitely a voice or gesture control option. Everything will be instructable (I.e. automation). What isn’t visually presented? We’ll have audio-only, of course. Of course, “phone” calls with or without video. Email. If there’s a display everywhere, which I envision and desire, what will do if we want to get away from it (it being communication, plugged in, boob-tube, etc.)? We’ll have to do so intentionally, willfully. We’ll have to create that space-time. Some combos probably don’t make sense: reading a book on wall display, for instance.
Remember everything described so far is for human consumption, so latency requirements are fairly slack (compared to true computation). Once a display can be updated within 10-30 milliseconds or so, it’s imperceptible and appears instant. Assuming network communication speed of 1/3 the speed of light, this allows you a radius of 1000 km (500 km for round trip delay).
Visual acuity quality threshold is within reach of the next generation of displays. The computing can be done anywhere within this radius and it really doesn’t matter that it’s not local. People don’t care and don’t want to care about how it gets done. We’ll want things done for us; why manage our photos, all I want to do is have them shown (perhaps it hears our reaction to gauge which shots we like, or of course verbal commands to denigrate an unfortunate portrait).
Thus far, I’ve been thinking about my home setting, I need to think more about the social/public setting. Clearly iPhone & iPad replace newspaper, magazine, paperback roles. Displays replace posters, signs, banners. Siri replaces call centers.
Networked (WiFi, Bluetooth, zigbee) plugs, wall switches, outlets, thermostats, appliances, etc. create cognitive house.
A notebook computer is an iPad. I always used an external keyboard (and larger monitor) when my laptop was used at my desk. I could just as easily use a wireless keyboard (and AirPlay to a monitor) with my iPad. I imagine this was the first insight that led to the iPad, and makes it “safe” for the corporate world. iPad is laptop/notebook+.
Isn’t it interesting that we say “the telephone”, but just “television”? No? Hmm, I’ll just go back to my thoughts then…